The new MacBooks (and the elusive Mac Pro) are finally on us, and Apple’s latest strategic addition by subtraction has been confirmed (not that it was really in doubt)- the optical drive’s days are dated. The first to eschew it was the Macbook Air, but it’s ultra slim form made the addition of an optical drive impossible (and sparked the creation of the USB Superdrive for those that still needed one). After that was the updated Mac Mini, then the Macbook Pro Retina joined the parade. Now, the only Mac in the entire lineup to still come with a superdrive is the non-retina 13 inch Macbook Pro; the 15 inch non-retina Pro has been retired like it’s older 17 inch relative.
It does make sense for Apple to forgo the optical drive. While still in wide use, the technology is a bit long in the tooth and offers little to modern Mac users- software now comes from the online-only App store, media is readily available from iTunes (and various other streaming or download sources), and the venerable iPod harked the end of the music CD long ago (I feel old admitting that the iPad is aged). Apple’s refusal to include Blu Ray drives seems to have paid off; the drive would have been much more expensive to include (especially when the software to use it is included) and they can claim that the HD titles from iTunes offer equal or greater quality with much more convenience. The iPhone and iPad were soundly condemned for Apple’s refusal to include Adobe Flash software, yet time (and use) have proven them right as HTML 5 has rapidly overtaken the use of Flash, and those mobile device makers that did try to implement Flash found that the mobile experience just couldn’t be successfully deployed.
But what of some of Apple’s strategic misses? There were a few omissions in the infrastructure of their devices that had to be abandoned (sometimes very quietly) when it was obvious that the choice was the wrong one. The first that comes to mind was Steve Jobs’ insistence on the single button mouse. While it could mimic the functionality of the two button mouse popularized by Windows via a keystroke with the click, Apple eventually relinquished when it was obvious that the additional functionality offered by the extra control was just too valuable. If anything they one-upped the technology by the inclusion of multi touch gestures via the Magic Mouse and Magic Trackpad.
Another swing and miss was Apple’s choice of firewire over USB as data port of choice. Similar to the Betamax and VHS competition, firewire was superior in ways and was embraced by some users, but it just didn’t catch on like USB did and has since been far surpassed in development. Firewire is now missing from most new Macs (although there are adaptors for it that attach via Thunderbolt, the technology that will likely replace USB).
There are a few other omissions that are still to be decided on. The inability for users to upgrade or repair most of the Mac lineup has been lambasted, yet it seems that many competitors are veering to this form for their devices as well. Another staple of computing, the traditional spinning magnetic disk hard drive, seems to be on Apple’s hit list as almost all of their new devices at least offer an option of solid state storage. Apple has refused to employ NFC (near field communication) in their iOS lineup, but clever use of Bluetooth and device to device wifi may offer a better (and more secure) solution. Approve or disapprove, Apple has been admirable- and largely successful- in their steadfast commitment to their strategic omissions.
- Say goodbye to internal “SuperDrives” with the latest MacBook Pro refresh (imore.com)
- Five reasons to still love the 13-inch MacBook Pro Classic (reviews.cnet.com)
- Apple’s Plan To Wipe Out Disc Drives Is Nearly Complete (news.cnet.com)